On Sunday morning, February 20, 2005, hackers posted the data from Paris Hilton’s cell phone on GenMay.com, a rowdy on-line forum that served as an internet meme incubator, similar to Reddit of today. In addition to the phone numbers of Paris’ friends, and her humiliating personal notes, the cache contained intimate photos of her topless. By the next morning, hundreds of blogs picked up the story. The Secret Service—the agency that protects high federal officials such as the President, but also investigates cybercrime—shut these websites down as fast as they sprang up.
This talk will tell the never-before-told saga of how a young boy from a poor, broken home in South Boston was able to hack the cell phone of one of the most famous celebrities in the world. Aside from revealing the way in which Paris Hilton’s cell phone was compromised, this talk will expose a deep truth about protecting our digital information: ultimately, cybersecurity is a human problem, not an engineering one.